Exxon Mobil said Wednesday it opened a greenhouse facility to grow and test algae, the next step for its nascent biofuels program.
Researchers from Exxon and its partner Synthetic Genomics, will use the facility to test whether large-scale quantities of affordable fuel can be produced from algae.
Exxon said last year it will invest $600 million over the next five to six years attempting to develop biofuel from algae.
If research milestones are successfully met, Exxon said it will spend more than the $600 million over the next decade, $300 million of which will be allocated to SGI.
Exxon's biofuel investment represents a tiny portion of the oil company's spending, which is set for $32 billion for just this year. That figure includes the budget of XTO, a natural-gas company the oil major acquired.